Ketubot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Ketubot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four



The Torah discusses the “seducer” in Exodus 22:15-16:  “If a man seduces a virgin who has not been betrothed and lies with her, he must make her his wife by payment of a bride-price.  If her father refuses to give her to him, he must still weigh out silver in accordance with the bride-price for virgins.”  The rabbis learned that the bride-price referred to in these verses is the same as the 50 shekels referred to in the verses which discuss the rapist in Deuteronomy 22.  Therefore, both a seducer and a rapist must pay a fine of 50 shekels to the father, equivalent to the bride-price which the father would have received had he married her off in a typical fashion.  Our mishnah discusses the other types of payments that the rapist and the seducer must pay and other differences between the two.


Mishnah Four

1)                     The seducer pays three forms [of compensation] and the rapist four.

a)                                 The seducer pays compensation for embarrassment and blemish and the fine;

b)                                 The rapist pays an additional [form of compensation] in that he pays for the pain.

2)                     What [is the difference] between [the penalties of] a seducer and those of a rapist?

a)                                 The rapist pays compensation for the pain but the seducer does not pay compensation for the pain.

b)                                 The rapist pays immediately but the seducer [pays only] if he dismisses her.

c)                                 The rapist must “drink out of his pot” but the seducer may dismiss [the girl] if he wishes.



Section one:  The seducer pays three types of payment:  1)  for having shamed her; 2) for having caused her to be “blemished”; 3)  the fine.  The first two of these types of payments will be described in greater detail in mishnah seven.  The rapist must make an additional payment for the pain he has caused her.  Since the women willingly had relations with the seducer, he does not pay for the pain. 

Section two:  The mishnah now relates three differences in the penalties of a seducer and those of a rapist.  The first was already mentioned above. The second is that a rapist must pay immediately, whereas the seducer pays only if he decides not to marry her.  This difference is derived from the fact that with regard to the seducer the verse states, “If her father refuses to give her to him, he must weigh out silver” (Ex. 22:16).  By inference we can conclude that if the father does not refuse, then the seducer does not pay.  In contrast, Deuteronomy 22:28 states, “The man who lay with her must pay the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver.”  In this case the ruling is stated unconditionally.  Hence he must pay whether or not the father allows the couple to remain married.

The final difference is that a rapist is not allowed to initiate divorce against the woman.  This is derived from the Deut. 22:28, “Because he has violated her, he can never have the right to divorce her.”  In contrast, the seducer is allowed to divorce his wife.

[I realize that the idea that the victim of a rape would somehow be rewarded by the rapist having to marry her and never being allowed to divorce her, sounds cruel to our modern sensibilities.  However, if we understand that we are talking about a society where a woman may have been “ruined” and hence unable to get married after having been raped, we will realize that the intent of the law is to protect the woman.  By forcing him to marry her, the Torah affords her the economic protection of a husband, economic protection that may have been quite necessary in ancient society.]